Pinnacle Will Close PinnPro Ground Div.

By Bill Dries

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. announced Tuesday, May 8, that it will wind down its PinnPro Professional Ground Services subsidiary “over the next several months,” leaving the company’s ground operations restructured and much smaller.

Leaders of the Memphis-based regional air carrier began telling those in the rebranded business unit Monday about the decision, which is the latest chapter in the company’s restructuring and reorganization as part of federal bankruptcy court proceedings.

“We said when we started the restructuring process that we would have to make tough decisions for our business to emerge from Chapter 11 (bankruptcy reorganization) stronger and profitable,” a Pinnacle statement said. “We are discontinuing unprofitable units as part of the reorganization plan and refocusing on our core business of flying.”

PinnPro was rolled out by Pinnacle executives during the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2011 at the Regional Airlines Association annual meeting and didn’t make it to the one-year mark.

The short-lived rebranding was a business unit that was already providing ground services not just to Pinnacle but to other regional and charter air carriers when Pinnacle announced it as a new business. At the start, PinnPro had 1,200 employees in 38 locations.

The company put the PinnPro payroll as of this week at 900 employees at 11 airports with 16 U.S. airlines across the country, including just under 400 in Memphis – 68 full time and 330 part timers.

Other decisions made by Pinnacle post-bankruptcy filing include the winding down of some smaller capacity aircraft in the Pinnacle fleet as well as Pinnacle’s regional connecting flights for US Airways Inc. and United Air Lines Inc. by the end of this year. Pinnacle would focus on a renegotiated agreement to fly regional connectors only for Delta Air Lines Inc.

Pinnacle executives said in April they could put up to 450 pilots on unpaid furlough leave in the next year and a half as part of the restructuring.

The PinnPro announcement comes just weeks ahead of the departure of Sean Menke as Pinnacle CEO effective June 1. Menke announced his resignation in April as well. Pinnacle chief operating officer John Spanjers becomes the new Pinnacle CEO in June.